Fleet News

The inside track: car product manager

It was Mark Blundell’s dream to work in the automotive industry.

On leaving school in 1992, aged 16, he joined Peugeot and hasn’t looked back.

Starting his career as a business trainee, Blundell has worked his way through various departments within Peugeot before settling in product management three years ago.

The product team tends to work two or three years in advance of a launch.

At any one time it is involved in several future vehicles as well as bringing to market the existing range and launching special editions.

“It’s constant plate spinning. You manage the current model, facelifts within that and maintaining its success, then looking at new products to implement, then flitting between different future products,” says Blundell.

Key relationships with every department

The product manager is the lynchpin and go-to person for all things related to his or her vehicles, how they work, key features and market positioning.

This person co-ordinates the whole process of bringing a new car to market and works with virtually every department within the manufacturer to bring about a successful launch, from marketing and commercial, to the fleet teams and PR.

The process starts for Blundell at Peugeot’s head office in Paris, where product managers get a first look at a future model in design form.

Blundell presents to head office and starts to shape the range for the UK market, working out the challenges the product is likely to face, the competitors and how the car should be positioned for pricing.

Second-guessing the market

Validation of the UK product strategy is usually the most time-consuming challenge for Blundell, who analyses the market trends and sometimes turns ideas on their head for UK specification to maximise the sales potential of the car.

“It is the role of the product manager to present to the different teams the new product, pricing, key timings and the competitors and start to tee up the actions for the other departments leading up to the launch,” says Blundell.

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